It’s early spring, which means it’s time for all young athletes to get ready to join their teams to compete in the spring, summer or fall. According to a report Sports and Fitness Industry Association, about 21.47 million children in the United States participate in organized sports, which comes to about 75 percent of boys and 69 percent of girls. One essential step in your preparation for your sport of choice should be an athletic physical. Many states require physicals before young people are allowed to compete in the sports of their choice, but if you’ve never gotten one, here are the reasons it’s a good idea to get one this year.
- A physical will reveal how fit the athlete is. Did your athlete spend the off-season on the couch? If so, their body might not be ready to jump right back into an intense training program. Instead, it might be a good idea to build a more structured regimen to get them in shape before they start practice. By testing neurological function, reflexes, flexibility and strength, a physical can give you information about the athlete’s fitness level before the first practice.
- A physical ensures that the athlete is in good health. A physical typically includes getting a detailed medical history and looking for signs of diseases that would make playing sports unsafe, such as asthma. They also typically include a daily habits questionnaire, which will give the medical professional insight into the athlete’s daily lifestyle.
- The exam can help keep old injuries from flaring up again. By taking health history into account, a medical professional can make a list of recommendations to avoid exacerbating an old injury and give a detailed report on the healing done over the off-season.
- A doctor can give you important tools and information on how to stay safe, even if you’re perfectly healthy. During a physical, a medical professional will usually check immunizations to make sure they are up to date, and administer them if they’re not. Additionally, things like joint alignment are usually tested, and a doctor can typically give the athlete advice on how to keep his or her body safe during competition.
- A physical can detect conditions you might not be aware of. By testing things like joint alignment, strength and flexibility, a physical can detect functional movement warning signs that might not be evident in everyday life. Minor problems in these three areas can lead to injuries if steps aren’t taken to alleviate them, because issues in functional movement and alignment typically grow into chronic conditions over time.
Physicals are the best preparation for the sports season in terms of physical health. So before you get to try-outs, walk into your local AFC/Doctors Express to get a physical and ensure that the coming season will be a great and safe one!